Public Works Department apprentices graduate

The graduates gather in front of a Department of Agriculture post-harvest facility building that they constructed. - Photos: Jewel Levy

Eight apprentices graduated from the Public Works Department and the Cayman Islands Further Education Apprenticeship programme Wednesday.

A passing out ceremony for the  apprentices was held on the grounds of the Agriculture Department on Lottery Road, Bodden Town.

Max Jones, director of the Public Works Department, said that as part of their practical work for the programme, the apprentices had constructed a new building for the Agriculture Department, which is using it as a new post-harvest facility.

Jones said 27 City and Guilds certified mentors facilitated the programme and all eight graduates had found work already.

Trainee Remi Bush-Jackson said the apprentices considered their time at Public Works a great learning experience. She said that for the past five months, they had been engaged in a number of different work opportunities, as each trainee was assigned mentors in the areas of specialisation they preferred.

“As a female who is fairly new to the construction industry, I was exposed to learning new skills where no preferential treatment was granted, and I somehow felt like one of the guys on the PWD team,” Bush-Jackson said.

Graduate Zeb Bush, who was awarded the title of Apprentice of the Year, said he was appreciative of the work experience he had received.

Tyrell Scott, 17, a graduating apprentice, said Public Works had provided him with an opportunity to showcase his skills in electrical and air-conditioning, and subsequently he was offered a job at Andro Electrical.

Zeb Bush, centre, was awarded Apprentice of the Year by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson, left, and PWD director Max Jones.

“I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Since then, I have made it my duty to be always on time and to perform my very best,” he said.

Naethiun Chambers, the apprentice project manager, worked with his peers on constructing the Agriculture Department post-harvest facility. He had a pragmatic and somewhat philosophical insight into the programme, saying, “We don’t have to be great to start but you have to start to be great.”

He added, “I was in charge of being the project manager, and I can tell you it was not an easy task. Managing my peers is much more difficult than I anticipated, and it almost drove me crazy.”

Arch and Godfrey director Heber Arch said the programme was had got off to an excellent start. He suggested it could be coordinated with others at the University College of the Cayman Islands and Inspire Cayman Training, which is being promoted by Michael Myles.

“There is no limit to what you can do,” he told the graduates.

Levi Allen, programmes manager for the apprenticeship course, said “They don’t just learn to swing a hammer, they learn to how to speak properly while swinging a hammer.”

Education Minster Juliana O’Connor-Conolly presents aprentices with their certificates.

Government expands apprenticeship facility

Allen explained that, in a few weeks, construction will begin on a new PWD apprentice training programme facility at the Public Works Department compound on North Sound Road in George Town. The construction is scheduled to be completed by December.

The PWD conference room and staff training rooms are currently being used for apprenticeship training.

“What they will be doing is expanding the existing building to two additional classrooms and a practical training area,” Allen said.

The two-storey building will have classrooms on the second floor and a practical training area on the ground floor. A part of the project, the existing workshops are also being upgraded.

“So the workshops for carpentry, electrical, plumbing and air conditioning will be enhanced to make them more suitable for trainees,” Allen said.

Allen said a contractor was recently selected for the project and the contract will be awarded sometime next week.

As part of their training, PWD trainees will get some hands-on experience in the construction of the building.

“Because they are using an external contractor, there are liabilities that we have to pay attention to, so we will be managing and monitoring their work,” Allen said.